Animal study | Eat stinging nettles as a vegetable, and lose body fat
The common stinging nettle, in Latin Urtica dioica, is edible - and according to American researchers, a super food that burns fat, reduces fat reserves and increases insulin sensitivity.Study
Researchers from the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of Maryland fed a group of mice 12 weeks' fat with feed to which they had added extra bacon fat, and fed another group of mice standard feed. A third group of mice were fed high-fat feed to which the researchers had added nettles.

The researchers did not use extract, but whole stinging nettles. They used young nettles, which they picked in the spring. Later in the year, Urtica dioica contain high concentrations of potentially toxic substances.
In addition, the researchers did not use the roots, and only leaves and stems. Especially the roots of stinging nettles contain active substances, which in the right amounts can be extremely healthy, but in too large amounts poisonous.



The researchers dried the nettles, then ground them into powder. If the mice had been humans, they would have eaten about 80-100 grams of stinging nettle per day. That's about the amount you eat when you eat nettles as a vegetable.
Results
Stinging nettles inhibited the increase in body weight in the mice. The addition of Urtica dioica to the food prevented the mice's fatty tissues from growing.




Mechanism

Above you can see how stinging nettles are believed to break down the fatty tissues. In both the fat cells and the muscle cells, Urtica dioica activated the hormone FIAF, which is called Fasting Induced Adipose Factor in full. Usually, researchers refer to it as ANGPTL4.FIAF becomes active when cells perceive fatty acids via PPAR. This hormone supports the breakdown of adipose tissues when the body needs energy, but it probably also plays a kind of protective role. FIAF prevents the heart and other vital organs from absorbing fatty acids. When organs absorb too much fatty acids, they become less sensitive to insulin.
In obesity, FIAF probably also plays a less pleasant role. The hormone then causes the concentration of triglycerides in the blood to increase. FIAF blocks the enzyme with which the cells cut fats into fatty acids and can then absorb them.
In muscles, physical activity deactivates FIAF. Perhaps, we speculate wildly and without significant know-how, stinging nettle consumption is twice as interesting when combined with exercise.
Source:
Nutrients. 2020 Apr 10;12(4):1059.